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Warehouse Case Study

Furniture World Magazine


Central Illinois furniture retailer continues to grow. Taking advantage of back-end operations efficiencies really helps.

 Sherman’s is a Central Illinois full service retailer of furniture, bedding, electronics, home theater, home systems and appliances. It has grown while larger competitors have failed in their marketplace. Sherman’s is a family business headed by Paul Sherman and includes Paul’s sisters, their husbands and an experienced staff. In essence, they have continuously sharpened their management and technology skills throughout the organization and added showroom and operations facilities. Sherman’s competes head to head with the largest retailers through their participation in the Nationwide Marketing Group.

This has been a very busy year for Sherman’s. It replaced its Peru store and expanded the Peoria distribution center. The long-term viability of each of these locations was excellent, and new facilities were built on land they already owned for a substantial savings.

Overall showroom space increased from 44,000 to 60,000 square feet. The additional space made it possible to substantially increase case goods presentations. The Peru store has been well received by Sherman’s customers. Utility costs are a fraction of what they were at the previous building due to improved lighting, heating and air conditioning technology.

The Peoria warehouse and operations space effectively tripled by retaining existing 10,000 square foot low bay storage and adding 25,000 square feet with 35 foot high bay racked storage, dock doors, receiving/ shipping staging & prep space, office, shop, trash/ recycling, etc. A fully secure enclosed room for appliance recycling provides authorized recyclers access during off hours for their convenience.

Construction was accomplished in two phases to avoid offsite warehousing throughout the project. Detailed construction and operations planning made this possible. An addition was built behind the existing facility with two dock doors. When this facility was fully enclosed, operations were transferred to the new space. The existing facility was demolished and replaced. Photos show the steps. Sensor lighting controls keep the warehouse dark with exception of zones where activity is taking place.

The new facility makes it possible to provide in stock next day delivery seven days each week. Evening deliveries are also offered on Wednesday and Thursday. This reduces the traditional Saturday overload. Prompt customer pickups are available. Their Peru and Bloomington/Normal locations carry a limited number of small items and fast movers for immediate customer pickup. Next day customer pickup is available for items transferred from the Peoria central distribution center.

“Perfect Delivery” Statistics for each of their delivery teams are posted where they are highly visible to employees and customers. Each delivery team is measured by three goals. Deliveries are to be:

1. Damage free.
2. Professional & Accurate.
3. Loaded Right & Complete.

Perfect Delivery performance, based on customer surveys affects the income of team members. These surveys are given to customers at time of delivery and mailed back. Delivery metrics are a reflection of system wide metrics used throughout the business in places where individual performance can be measured.

Technology wise, Sherman’s uses PROFITsystems. The company is also an active participant in a PROFITgroup. Paul sees the performance group as an opportunity to converse with non-competing retailers in a structured environment with goals and assignments. It provides open exchanges with fresh views as they rotate meetings among the retailer locations.

Sherman’s web site shermansinc.com and Paul’s Blog are significant marketing tools that provide consumers with a wealth of information. Change is continuous at Sherman’s. With a new Peru location and Peoria upgraded, their attention is shifting to the Normal location scheduled for renovation in the near future.

The bottom line summary is that the lines of communication are short at Sherman’s and the management team moves quickly to resolve issues. Their attention to customer satisfaction will continue to serve new and existing customers while providing additional opportunities for their employees.

Daniel Bolger P.E. provides operations consulting services to clients throughout North America. FURNITURE WORLD Magazine readers can contact him at bolger@furninfo.com. For more information on transportation, logistics and furniture warehousing topics, go to furninfo.com to read all of Dan’s articles.

Operations Articles By Dan Bolger

Articles in Operations Articles By Dan Bolger